Home repossessions in the UK continue to fall

The rate of home repossession in the UK continued to fall in the third quarter of 2012, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported today.

In its latest quarterly report, the CML said that 8,200 properties were taken into possession by mortgage providers between July and September, down from 8,500 in the previous three-month period and from 9,600 in the third quarter last year.

The total for this year’s third quarter represents the lowest number of properties taken into possession in a single quarter since 2007. Over the first nine months of the year repossessions were down 8% compared to a year earlier.

Lenders want to keep people in their homes and repossession is a last resort, according to CML director general Paul Smee. He added that good communication and effective arrears management by borrowers, lenders and money advisers are helping the vast majority of those with mortgage repayment problems.

Mortgage arrears remained stable in the third quarter. As of the end of September, the total number of mortgages with arrears of 2.5% or more of the outstanding balance rose slightly to 159,100, up from 158,700 in the previous quarter, but remained below the 165,300 in arrears in the same period last year.

According to the CML, borrowers in the UK have 11.2 million mortgages, with loans worth over GBP1.2 trillion.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders represent banks, building societies and other lenders who together account for around 95% of all residential mortgage lending in the UK.

Separate statistics released today by the Ministry of Justice give an indication that the number of homes being repossessed will fall further over the coming months. There were 14,168 court actions for repossession issued from July to September 2012, which continues the downward trend seen since 2008.

The Ministry of Justice said that this fall in the number of claims coincides with lower interest rates and a more proactive approach from lenders in managing consumers in financial difficulties, as well as various interventions, such as the introduction of the Mortgage Pre-Action Protocol.

The Bank of England confirmed today that its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has decided to keep interest rates at the record low of 0.5%.

UK home repossession levels stable in first quarter, CML reports

Home repossessions in the UK in the first quarter of 2012 amounted to 9,600, the same as in the first quarter of 2011, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported today.

This puts a stop to the recent trend of year-on-year increases in repossessions, although the CML noted that such stability could be disrupted by continuing pressures on household finances, changes to welfare benefits and rising mortgage rates.

Repossessions in this year’s first quarter were higher than the 8,700 registered in the fourth quarter of 2011, but this is said to reflect normal seasonal patterns.

Previously the CML has forecast that repossessions in 2012 will number around 45,000 but the organisation now believes that this figure may be revised down when its updated housing market forecasts are published later in the year.

Seeking to reassure people who are having trouble meeting their mortgage payments, Paul Smee, CML director general, said that repossession is a last resort for lenders and the number of repossessions remains relatively low. “Anyone worried about their mortgage should be assured that lenders will try to help them get back on track, as long as this is a realistic prospect,” he added.

A separate report released today by the CML on the buy-to-let sector reveals that the number of buy-to-let mortgages in arrears fell slightly in the first quarter of 2012, and the arrears rate on buy-to-let mortgages continues to be lower than in the owner-occupied sector.

Conversely, the buy-to-let repossession rate is higher than in the owner-occupier sector, where the focus is on trying to keep home-owners in their homes. The repossession rate on buy-to-let properties has remained virtually unchanged for more than a year, standing at 0.12% in the first quarter of this year, compared with 0.08% in the owner-occupied sector.